Trump calls on Saudis to lift Yemen blockade 'immediately'

A malnourished Yemeni child receives treatment at a hospital in the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah

In a rare divergence from Saudi Arabia, U.S. President Donald Trump called on the kingdom to end its blockade on Yemen, citing human rights.

"I have directed officials in my administration to call the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to request that they completely allow food, fuel, water, and medicine to reach the Yemeni people who desperately need it", Trump said on December 6.

"This must be done for humanitarian reasons immediately".

On Monday, dominant Houthi fighters killed former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, his relatives and his senior aides after three days of deadly street clashes between Houthi movement and Saleh's armed loyalists in Sanaa.

Saudi Arabia and its allies have launched a campaign to oust Houthi rebels who control Sanaa and have links to Riyadh's arch foe, Iran. About eight million people are on the brink of starvation with outbreaks of cholera and diphtheria.

The violence is compounding an already dire humanitarian situation in the country where a Saudi blockade prompted by a Houthi missile strike targeting Riyadh has hindered attempts to deliver aid, including food and medical supplies, to the impoverished nation.

"President Trump's public call for Saudi Arabia to end the blockade is long overdue but hugely important", Mr Scott Paul, humanitarian policy lead at Oxfam America, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Before his slaying Saleh was seen as Yemen's great survivor.

Houthi leader also accused Saleh of backing a Saudi-led military coalition.

The ICRC has appealed for "bold measures" to provide life-saving care to civilians after the "unprecedented" escalation of fighting.

More than 11 million children in Yemen are in acute need of aid according to UNICEF.

"The custodian of the two holy mosques asserted to his excellency the U.S. president that any American announcement regarding the situation of Jerusalem prior to reaching a permanent settlement will harm peace talks and increase tensions in the area", state news agency SPA said.

The kingdom also said the move represents "a big step back in efforts to advance the peace process" and said it was "a violation of the U.S. neutral position regarding Jerusalem".

The U.S. and its allies have played a major role in Yemen by assisting Saudi aircraft in refueling, providing intelligence, and selling billions in arms and military equipment.

"The past month's escalation has killed thousands and condemned thousands more to die in the near future". He also noted "the fact that US support has helped create Yemen's horrific crisis" and called on Washington to cease military assistance if parties don't agree an immediate ceasefire and a political settlement.



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